Born free

What if red-headed boys were one day to be rounded up by American police squads? It sounds awkward, subversively comical. What would anyone have against red-headed boys? It is the backdrop of the short film “Born Free”, written by British singer-songwriter and artist M.I.A. If you’ve heard the song “Paper Planes” than you’ve heard M.I.A. “Born Free” also doubles as the music video of the same name. It was directed by a French director Romain Gavras. The video opens with an armored truck driving through a deserted urban zone, transporting a squad of enforcers wearing United States flags on their. They enter an apartment building and proceed to kick down the doors of various tenants. They viciously beat a couple having sex, walk by a man smoking drugs, and then detain a red-headed man, pushing him into a bus that is filled with other red-head. The group is driven out into the desert, forced out of the bus and lined up. They are ordered to run across an open stretch of desert. They don’t run. One man pulls a pistol and shoots the youngest boy, no older than 13, above the eye. The group runs out into the desert into a live minefield. One boy steps on a live mine and is graphically shown blown apart. Shortly thereafter the video ends.

Audiences may find the video an abhorrent, vulgar display. But that is exactly what network programs take advantage of everyday. Soon television censorship will only censor so little. Television programs have more language and violence, more blood, more sex, more drugs. News programs will then follow suit and show even more of the reality. It may be revealed in the future that we will not care, or be affected to, what we see on the television and news because we have become desensitized. In this day and age to pin a video or a piece of art, which can be argued for “Born Free”, as too violent would be blatant hypocrisy.

The violence, drug use, language, gore, brutality and nudity are surface values compared to the other angles that are tackled in the video. It is a screaming reminder that there is more in this world than we, specifically Americans, experience and see or know to be true on a worldwide scale: the killing of ethnic groups, the lack of rights societies have and how governments use their power to subdue minorities by denying personal liberties. It even describes our position as the aggressor within our continental boundaries and in countries abroad. The video is also a probable challenger of the soon to be Arizona SB1070. An anti-immigration law that requires police to make an attempt to determine a person’s immigration status under reasonable suspicions that he or she is an illegal alien. This is a very long description easily summed as ‘ethnic profiling’.

“Born Free” defines the end and the mean in stark detail offering no solution to global issues worldwide and internal United States conflict. It is merely a moment of what horrors people endure, and that people are put in positions beyond our comprehension. But will we, or should we, remember? What is beyond our borders isn’t necessarily our concern, but unless we wish the human race to survive it certainly it is. More frightening, will we remember Arizona SB 1070 in the future?

“Born Free” can be found unedited at as it is buried on Youtube and age-restricted.

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